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2738 Camino Capistrano, Ste. #1
San Clemente, CA 92672
Child and Adolescent Counseling Blog for Lisa Klipfel, MFT
Gifted Children in Therapy

This weekend I attended the CAMFT conference, a conference for Marriage and Family Therapist to learn from some of the current greatest leaders in the field of therapy. I met Mika Gutavson, an expert who works with gifted children in therapy. It was apparent from the beginning of her presentation that it would not be the usual presentation, with her frank opinions and unfiltered explanation of experiences. I learned quite a bit about gifted children in therapy and how to connect with them.

Mika started with a definition of gifted that you would think would be quite simple but it was not. Clearly there are those children who have been tested and placed in the gate classes, but there are many gifted children who are not placed in gifted classes due to a co-existing condition. She calls them, the twice-exceptional child. These include children who have a higher intelligence and ADHD, Dyslexia, Aspergers, Anxiety, Depression, Sensory Processing Disorder and a multitude of other conditions that seem to be the main area of focus. There was much discussion about how gifted children in therapy can have their intellectual abilities or "special abilities" overlooked.

Perfectionism was a classic example of a trait that can be seen in gifted children that in and of itself is not classifiable, but indicates a clear vision from their more developed mind to create things one way, but with a struggle in the gifted child's physical development that is incapable of matching their vision. This perfectionism can create, or show itself as rigidity. It can be frustrating to teachers, to parents and to the gifted child.

I believe that I have seen many, many gifted children in therapy that have never been identified as such. In fact, most children and parents struggle when their child is twice-exceptionally gifted. There is this innate feeling that their child is smart. Maybe it is their creative problem solving, or their extreme artistic talent, but at school they can't sit still, getting in trouble all the time, or maybe they can't read due to their Dyslexia. The sad part of this is that it chips away at the child's self esteem, which then effects their motivation either in school, with peers, or even at home. Some families home school because there just is not a match between the school setting, and the child's twice-exceptional needs.

This is only a scratch on the surface about the issues facing the gifted child in therapy, but I hope it will shed some light on the idea that sometimes, many times, a child has more complex things going on with them, like an onion. It's not that they have many "problems", but they are multifaceted, making a single "diagnosis" or cause inaccurate.

If you have struggled with your child and have always thought, "Y'know, I've always known my child is smart, but this other issue is getting in the way." contact me so we can discuss how to determine if your child is twice-exceptional, and what would be the best steps on getting him/her some help.

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